Quote of the Day

"One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that 'violence begets violence.' I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy."

Colonel Jeff Cooper

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Who dat, say "who dat" when I say "who dat."!!! Thoughts on building a survival retreat or homestead.

We went to town today and picked up a paper.  On the front page was this guy who looked like he stepped out of a "slasher" movie.  Turned out there was a reason for that. He cut somebody up, then vanished. Our Sheriff thinks this  unsavory character is still in the county somewhere. It's a big county, lots of places to hide.

You never know when it will come in handy.

My wife is not happy about this. I told her that this fellow couldn't find us out here with a map. I told her if she heard anything tonight, not to wake me up, just to go out on the porch and say "who dat!". She did not find my sense of humor very amusing, but we really are safe. We are forted up all the time. This place was designed to be defensible. Too bad the camera system went down, but I doubt an escaped crazy would fare too well if he found his way to the top of the mountain anyway. The dogs would get him before I did.

I know several people are about to move from cities to the country, so I thought I would list some books that are useful in this endeavor. Those by Ragnar Benson, in my opinion, are the best.  I decided not to post a couple of titles on the subject, because  I haven't read them.  If anyone knows of other books that would be useful, let me know and I'll include them, with your thoughts.

Haven't read this one, but I was told by someone who had that it was useful. He knows his stuff,  so I'm listing it , unlike two other books I haven't read.

I have read virtually all of Ragnar Benson's books, and this one was useful to me in improving my own situation up here. You can hardly go wrong with this guy.  I know Ragnar Benson was his nom de plume, and I know he's dead, but it's still as viable as it was the day he published it.

This one would have saved me some time and money had I read it before moving to the property I bought. It's the best of the books I know of in terms of dealing with the nitty gritty of actually finding and buying a specific property for your retreat.

This guy was all the rage some years ago, but I haven't heard much about him recently.  He was running a popular survival blog when I first came across him.  The book wasn't bad but it was oriented towards living a bit more of a bare bones existence than I had in mind.

Rawles was, and may still be, the ultimate survival guru in America. He's a former U.S. Army officer, mostly known for his series of fictional accounts of collapse. He's also got some excellent non-fiction books, very useful.  I don't think this is still in print, but someone may prove me wrong on that. If not, there's always the used books listings at on line book sellers.

These are all generic in terms of locations, so whether you are headed for Colorado, Idaho, or some other site they will still be useful to you.

Let me just mention a couple of  Rawle's books that are not expensive and pretty useful. When the first one came out, I bought a bunch of copies and handed them out to family.  Don't know how much good it did, especially with the nieces and nephews, but I did try.

Everybody starts out with a plan.  What these books are good for, is honing the plan.  The survivalist lifestyle is about constantly improving your overall situation.  Before the internet,  people primarily did this through reading pertinent books and magazines.  Now, with so many survivalists and preppers out there, I think most ideas cross from person to person over the internet. But, if some calamity does befall us, the net will go away.  Print copies of information will be on the shelf for you to refer to when you need it.

If I were doing this all over again, what would I do differently.

I wouldn't build a multi-level house.  My land is really steep, and building what amounted to a three story house back into the mountainside was the cheapest, most practical way to do it.  But now, I'd stay with a single story home, even if I had to pay more to have more building sites carved out of the mountain.

I would not have blown off a small fortune on installing a complete solar power/generator system up here for Y2K.  Not enough sun here , especially in winter, but the guys from Spartanburg, South Carolina who sold me the system and installed it did not mention the fact.  I could have, and should have, done my own homework, and not relied on "duty experts" who had a vested interest in selling me something.

I would have spent the money to put in actual buildings to park in, instead of concrete parking pads. Starting a vehicle here when it's been sitting outside in sub zero weather a few days is more of a challenge than I need.

I should have had them bulldoze out a meadow all the way around the house. Instead, to save money, I just had 180 degrees cleared around the buildings. That means the forest comes right up to the house on the other 180 degrees. Not good for security, and damnably dangerous in terms of forest fires.

I should not have put a shake roof on my buildings. Looks nice, and metal wasn't really an option back then unless you wanted a  "tin" roof that was aluminum colored. But shakes have cost me a fortune in increased insurance premiums, and in repairs.

I should have put a lot fewer windows in the main house. Yes, the view is nice. But from the standpoint of security they are a bad idea, and keeping the house cool or warm is harder because of the windows, even if they are double paned.

I should have taken the wrap around porch all the way around the house. Instead, I built a front porch, and back porch, and connected them on one side with a walk way.  That means the side of the house with no walk way is not accessible to me at night unless I go along at ground level in the woods.

One of my biggest mistakes was to use railroad ties in retaining walls. Railroad ties were the be all and the end all in 1986, and they did look good. Unfortunately, 31 years later they have largely rotted out and I am having to replace them with other materials, slowly and painfully.

Here are some things I did right.
All of my buildings are cedar log, on a heavy field stone foundation.  You couldn't do it today, the ocst of cedar wood is beyond belief. But in 1986 we could still get Canadian cedar.  Cedar log will last forever. You just have to spray the outside every few years to keep the wood in shape, and to keep bugs out of the wood.  Oak is good too,  there is a cabin in my part of the county that was built in 1847, and it's in good shape. But I went with cedar and have no regrets about that.

I chose property that was difficult to access. When I then built a way up to the building site, I put a gate up that couldn't be bypassed. Big ravine with a creek in it on one side, steep cliff face on the other. Since I had national forest behind me, I didn't have to worry about easements. NEVER buy a property with easements, and never  give anyone an easement through your property.

I built special purpose buildings. I have storage rooms in the main building, big ones.

 I have a shop , and a barn.

 I also built an apartment over the shop, fully equipped with kitchen, bath, etc. It's proven handy when something failed in the main house, and we used the apartment as a back up til I could effect repairs.

I chose land with National Forest on three sides, and I bought the land down slope. Nobody can encroach on me.

I have been careful over the years to try to maintain operational security in terms of my location. I have not always been successful, but I have to the extent that in 31 years I've only had a handful of problems related to that issue.  It's my opinion that it's very unwise to broadcast your location to all and sundry. Not everybody on the internet is sane and not everyone is pleasant.

I have three water sources here, two of which are natural.

I did have a good sized meadow bulldozed out of the forest. I've used it for animals, for gardening, and just because I like to see something besides trees all the time.

I did have concrete parking pads poured for three vehicles. Parking on red Georgia clay, on a steep hillside, in winter or during summer rains, is unwise.

I did have a big Tennessee field stone fireplace built, and I put a fully functional Victorian era wood burning kitchen stove in our kitchen. I also have a wood burning stove in the lowest level of the house.

I set the buildings up for propane heat. None of the controls are electric. If the power goes out, and the generator fails, I can still heat the house. Our kitchen stove is a Kenmore propane model, and has worked flawlessly all these years. We can cook while we have propane.

My propane tanks and diesel tanks are adequate to keep me in propane and diesel for a long time in the event of a disruption.

So, I've done some things right, and some things I could have done much better. Hind sight, as they say, is always 100%. Overall, I'm satisfied with the place and how it's worked out.

Thought for the Day.

They're out there.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Atlanta Theme Song. Batteries. Food Storage.

This song pretty much sums up the attitude of certain individuals you are apt to run up on in parts of Atlanta.  The individual who sings it was a famous "rapper", idolized by young men in "de hood." Fortunately, he got gunned down years ago. But the thought processes you hear in this are alive, and well, and operative in most American cities.  Just a word of warning, every other word in this is obscene, but it's an eye opener.  Believe me, these guys are out there. You don't have to get off the freeway at the wrong exit to meet them , either. They can pop up anywhere.

It's a mistake to think "well, if they mess with me, I'll shoot them."  Do that in Atlanta, or any big American city, and you'll be starring in the sequel to "The Gentle Giant" or "Treyvon on his way to bible study." It's way better to just let them have the cities and stay out of there.


And yet, every day the news starts out with somebody getting whacked down in Atlanta because they drove a nice car into the wrong neighborhood, or needed some gas. It's like a broken record. Interesting to note that even back when this song was written, Luxury SUV's were a favored target.

Still, when it gets right down to it, remember the old saying. "Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6."  I have no faith in "justice" in an American city when a white person shoots a black person. The circumstances don't matter one iota. You're still going to be an evil "Cracka" who gunned down Lafondu on his way to church.  Beats being dead, though.

Nothing lasts forever:

My security camera system finally gave up the ghost.  It was a wired system, and it worked for nearly fifteen years in some pretty bad weather. Freezing cold in winter, blistering hot and humid in summer. I'll have to replace it. Might not be so easy, since all the systems I've looked at on line feature "wireless" cameras and you have to have a smart phone instead of a monitor. I am not going to be getting a smart phone, they won't work here anyway.  I'm not all that keen on the "wireless" camera issue either. I already use so many battery powered devices here that it's a significant additional expense to keep them in batteries. I can't imagine that a wireless camera that was on 24 hours a day, seven days a week would not consume batteries at an alarming rate.

As it is, I wait til Christmas is over, and then buy the big packs of batteries at Home Depot.  Saves a lot of money and I always have batteries on hand.  But I'm not sure I can afford to run "wireless cameras."

Farmer's Market and the County Cannery

The county farmers market and the canning plant are opening back up.  Before much longer, we'll be able to buy fresh vegetables, honey, and cheese there , among other things.  The cannery has been completely renovated within the last year or so.  They used sales tax money to do it, which was a refreshing change from what they usually do with it.  This is more useful than a "fine arts center" or a "student's agricultural center."  Through the summer, when school it is out, the cannery is open most days. But during the school year it's only open two days a week because they have girls from the High School home economics classes working there.

If you don't have a cannery near you, or you don't grow your own food, you can buy number ten cans of basics from the Mormon canneries.  Here's a link to locations for them. As far as I know, there's only one now in Georgia, down in Tucker.  Too far to drive.

Locations of Mormon Canneries in U.S. and Canada

Speaking of the Mormons, here's one of their books that's outstanding. It has information on just about everything you could need to know for the bad times.  The last edition I know of was published in 2012, but maybe there's a new one out.  It's not cheap but it's good value.

And one final thing on this.  Here's a link to the Mormon home food storage calculator. When I ordered that 18 wheeler full of supplies in 1999, this is what I used to decide how much of what to buy. 

LDS food storage calculator

Well, I've got a doctors appointment in another county today, so I'd better start getting ready. At least it's an excuse to get off the mountain for awhile. And, there's a good buffet place up there.

Thought for the Day:

Crackhead interviews with Starbucks.